Upon receiving Move or Die and knowing little more than its name I was under the impression that the game was about sharks. You know, if sharks stop moving forward they literally can’t live and just die right there? If you did know, I’m glad Shark Week did something for you. If you didn’t know, I’m sorry to have made you aware of such a bleak fact. However Move or Die has very little to do with sharks. In fact, one could say that it has absolutely nothing to do with predatory sea life at all and instead is all about having a damn good time with one of the best party games I’ve played in a very long time.

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See, the secret to a party game is pacing. When gathering your friends around the TV to enjoy some good ol’ fashioned video games, you need an experience that isn’t gonna make everyone wish they’d stayed home and watched Judge Judy instead. This pacing, the speed at how quickly the game becomes fun (for want of a better phrase) is paramount to the experience. It’s why Mario Party is somewhat divisive; a party game that takes ages in-between turns to get everyone involved in the actual mini-games. It’s for this reason that Move or Die hits a six for me. Hell, it hits it straight out of the park and smashes a nearby mini-van. It’s fast, frenetic and doesn’t care if everyone is ready. It throws you into the thick of it and has a great time doing it.

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Similar to most party games, Move or Die has all players (up to four) select a little cartoon avatar and throws them all into a series of mini-games. The winner of said mini-games comes out on top in the end and is awarded a lovely little crown for their achievement. The game does offer unlockable skins, levels and daily challengers as well as an online multi-player component for those of you that who have friends very far away or maybe don’t have friends at all. Whilst these progression features and online multiplayer do add to the package, I think this game is definitely better with friends. There’s something satisfying about crushing a buddy and rubbing their nose in the dust of their own defeat that just can’t be captured online against strangers. That being said, the game is still fun solo, but infinitely better so with friends around.

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For what initially seems like a small-scale offering, the amount of variety in Move or Die’s mini-games is actually staggering. After selecting how long each round should be (a blessing of a feature, I might add), players can select up to eight different mini-games out of a large roster, each playing out completely differently. Fancy a side-scrolling Splatoon? Yeah, it’s got that. How about a game where you have to back stab your friends with a chainsaw? Yep. Tetris except if you have to avoid all the falling blocks otherwise you’ll be crushed like the mosquito that dared to take a pull of my sweet, sweet life juices? That’s in there too. Without the mosquito. He’s dead now. Every game is fast and frenetic, no doubt leading to experiences of nail-biting tension and gloating amongst companions for hours on end.

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To further accommodate the game’s emphasis on erratic speed is the core mechanic linking all the mini-games: Players have to be moving at all times. As one stands still, a visible bar ticks down until depleted, resulting in death and an instant loss. What results is a mad dash for safety as many of the mini-games focus on precision dodging and timing whilst avoiding certain threats. Being stationary would make many of these threats manageable, but implementing a system that requires constant movement really unites the creative intention of the game with the player’s actions. It’s an ingenious and difficult challenge to get right but it never feels frustrating. The rate that Move or Die transitions to different mini-games doesn’t lend itself to dwelling on past mistakes and pushes players to keep at it until (hopefully) proving victorious in the end. To make the game even deeper, players are able to add modifiers to their games such as 2x speed, “golf ball movement” or jumbled game descriptions to add an even further layer of hilarity into the mix.

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The game’s visuals are crisp and cartoonish and while all the frantic action on screen can occasionally be difficult to follow, the unique characters available to players go a long way to avoiding confusion during games. The arenas are mechanically varied (if not visually so) enough to make every game feel a little bit different from the last. Move or Die has a decidedly tongue-in-cheek approach to presentation with character models looking like they’re drawn from early 2000’s web-comics and a narrator that really doesn’t feel like doing his job most of the time. All of this adds up to a delightful little experience designed to bring out as many laughs as it possibly can.

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Let me end this off and get a bit real for a second. I’m an incredibly competitive person, I would say almost to a flaw. I used to refuse to play board games because losing upset me so much. It’s a problem that I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to get over and for the most part, I’ve got much better at managing it. Party games have always been one of those things I’ve tended to avoid due to the sheer frustration it caused me and, by extension, my friends. Yet Move or Die did something no other party game has: It made me feel good. From the carefree and light-hearted visuals to the ridiculous pace and challenges there was never I time I felt overwhelmed by myself or the game. What resulted was an incredibly enjoyable experience with friends that will no doubt have everyone in stitches. The good kind of stitches.

Last Updated: March 14, 2019

Move or Die
Move or Die is a fast-paced and frenetic party game committed to delivering you and your friends the most enjoyable and fun experience possible and at that it truly succeeds
8.0
Move or Die was reviewed on PlayStation 4
83 / 100

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